Do you have any idea that a delay of a couple of seconds in page load time can negatively impact your customer traffic and sales conversion? That there are simple tweaks to enhance the load speed? That Google plays a crucial role in the assessment of page efficiency? No? Surprised? Then read on.
A recent Microsoft study says you have just 8 Seconds to grab a consumer’s attention. Yes, just 8 Seconds!
A study done by Akamai and Gomez.com affirms that 50% of the web users expect sites to load in lesser that 2 seconds. They tend to abandon sites if they do not load in three seconds. 79% of online shoppers who encountered slow web speed say they would never return to the site and 64% said they would take their business elsewhere while 44% assured they’d tell their friends too if they ever had a bad experience shopping online.
After surveying 2500 online shoppers from the UK and USA, Brand Perfect reports that 67% users from the UK and 51% from the USA stated that slow website is the main reason for them abandoning their purchases. Mozilla found that reducing their load time by 2.2 seconds increased conversions by over 15%, leading to additional 10 million downloads over one year. Similarly, Amazon reported that for every fraction of a second delay cost them a 1% decline in sales. An extra delay of half a second more in their search generation caused a 20% drop in traffic.
On an average, a site would lose 40% of the customers if the load time is more than 3 seconds even when the average website load time is 7 seconds.
SIGNIFICANCE OF GOOGLE
In April 2010, a signal in Google search ranking algorithms directly related to loading speed for websites. Google engages a tool called Google Search Console which allows webmasters in checking indexing status and optimizing visibility of their websites. If your site takes 8+ seconds to load, either owing to your site being heavy or the connectivity issue of the customer, Google Search Console would start listing your site as slow. If delayed load speed impacts customer engagement, user engagement index is bound to rank lower, thereby Google listing your site as illegitimate or misrepresenting. This could pose a severe test to the content of your site and would limit through-traffic to the website.
IMPACT ON BUSINESS
While most of the sites are armed with perfect looks, clear call-to-action, responsive navigation and informative designs, they do not realize the impact of load speed. Tweaking your site to improve load speed on priority has clear, measurable benefits for e-commerce. Selling quality products through a high performing site doesn’t guarantee high sales if the load time is slow.
In an age of fast everything, customers would instead settle for mediocre results that get delivered to them with a lower wait time. A few seconds can feel like an eternity when it comes to loading speed. All customers look for is to effortlessly receive the information they are looking for with undisrupted user experience. The sites need to think and act according to the customer perspective.
The success mantra for any eCommerce in providing unhindered user experience is striking the right balance. We could summarize as:
Faster Load Speed + Easy User Experience + Great Products = Conversions
Implementing the following aspects is imperative to engage the customer interest:
- Personalization of the messages per the customers’ buying patterns and special interests.
- Maintaining customer delight across devices and figuring out the micro-moments from the customer’s journey
- Maintaining speed and flexibility to provide an Omnichannel experience to the customer.
- Engaging headless commerce to bring in an unparalleled buying experience independent of IT and to enhance business agility
WAYS TO MEASURE LOAD SPEED:
Here are a few no-charge web service tools available to gauge your site’s load speed:
- Web Page Test or Firefox browser plugins like Page Speed could be your starter service
- Page Speed Insights (Google’s web-based tool, accessible via Google Labs; available as a web-based tool as well as a Chrome extension)
- Google Analytics Plugin by Yoast
- Google Search Console
REASONS FOR SLOW DOWN:
Minor tweaks in your site can transform it to a high functional super-fast loading store. The following causes are listed as the principal contributors for slow speed:
- Slow Hosting (this includes server configuration)
- An excessive number of scripts & fonts
- Repeated scripts or CSS files (very often a single common script will be re-run several times by different extensions)
- Images loaded in the original size and form
- Too many plugins/extensions in the CMS
WAYS TO IMPROVE LOAD SPEED:
1. Decrease HTTP Requests
As per studies by Yahoo, HTTP requests take up approximately 80% of a Webpage’s load time. There are four ways to minimize these requests:
Combining CSS/JS Files – Instead of multiple files, combine your CSS files into larger files and get your JS and CSS to load in external files without cramping up web pages. This will prevent the browser getting bogged down by wading through all those requests for external files.
Loading Only Useful Data using Queries – Use conditional statements to load only the required data through multiple devices
Reduce number and size of images – Make sure to use only the compressed versions of images and load only required images. This will lighten the page and avoid distraction for customers. Tools like ImageOptim (Mac Only) or TinyPNG (Web-based) with image optimization for free.
CSS Sprites – You could combine commonly used images into sprite sheets and access them CSS background to enhance speed.
2. Remove Unused Scripts/Files & Use CDNs – Use CDNs to distribute data across different locations to get the advantage of load speed by letting the network carry the load. You can use Content Delivery Network (CDN) like Amazon CloudFront to help you with this.
3. Caching the Browser – Downloading your data to the local server as cash would enhance the loading speed. You could employ plugins like WP Super Cache to do the job for you.
4. Compressing Images and Optimizing File Sizes – Keeping all your image size below 150 KB, width below 1920px and quality level at average/medium/72dpi will serve you in keeping the site lightweight and easily loadable.
5. GZIP Compression – Check with your web host if they use GZIP compression and deflation on their servers. These two amazing techniques could significantly reduce file sizes by around 70% without lowering the image, video or site quality one bit. This would substantially enhance your load speed.
With all the above data to back us, we can easily surmise that every extra second your site takes to load would cost you customer traffic, customer engagement, customer experience, SEO ranking, user index ranking, conversions, and revenue. It is high time you fine tune your site to impact load speed. Google analytics would honor your store for that!